Royal Caribbean Vs Celebrity Cruises: Which Is Best?



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Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are two of the most well-known cruise lines in the world. They’re also owned by the same parent company – Royal Caribbean Group – which means they share a lot of similarities and even let guests enjoy loyalty perks with both cruise lines.

A comparative image featuring two cruise ships side by side on a bright sunny day, with the left showcasing a modern, massive cruise liner with multiple decks and the right depicting a smaller, classic cruise ship, both sailing on the deep blue sea. A large 'VS' in orange is centered between them, indicating a visual versus comparison.

However, they are not twin sister lines – they offer a very different experience, and it’s important to understand the differences so that you can book the right cruise for you.

In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about both cruise lines and how they compare so that you can book the right one for your cruise.

Royal Caribbean has one of the largest fleets of cruise ships in the world – 27 ships in total, with more on the way.

Celebrity Cruises has a much smaller fleet, but it is still impressive, with 15 ships in total and another that’s due to launch in late 2025.

Royal Caribbean Ships

Aerial view of the 'ICON of the SEAS' cruise ship, docked in a harbor with the city skyline in the background. The ship is adorned with colorful waterslides and an elaborate aqua park visible on the upper decks, highlighting its family-friendly amenities.

Royal Caribbean has eight classes of ship:

  • Icon Classthe biggest cruise ships in the world accommodating up to 7,600 guests
  • Oasis Classsix mega ships that can accommodate around 6,800 guests
  • Quantum Ultra Class – two modern ships accommodating 5,500 guests
  • Quantum Classthree ships accommodating 4,900 guests
  • Freedom Class – three ships accommodating 4,400 to 4,900 guests
  • Radiance Class – four ships accommodating 2,500 guests
  • Voyager Class – five ships accommodating 4,000 guests
  • Vision Class – four ships accommodating 2,400 to 2,700 guests

The oldest Royal Caribbean ship still sailing is Grandeur of the Seas, which was built in 1996. The newest ship is also the biggest in the world – Icon of the Seas, which launched in January 2024. 

Read more: Royal Caribbean Ships By Age

Celebrity Cruises Ships

The 'Celebrity Ascent' cruise ship, captured in clear weather, cruising near a coastal landscape with lush green hills. Its distinctive blue hull and orange accents highlight the ship's elegant design as it traverses the turquoise waters.

Celebrity has four classes of ship:

  • Edge Class – four ships that accommodate 2,900 to 3,200 guests
  • Solstice Class – five ships that accommodate 2,800 to 3,000 guests
  • Millennium Class – four ships that accommodate 2,200 guests
  • Expedition Ships – not an official class but a separate type of ship; these travel to much smaller ports, including Antarctica. There are three ships accommodating 16, 48 and 100 guests, respectively

Read more: Celebrity Ships By Age, Size and Class

Which to Choose?

When it comes to ship size, Royal Caribbean is where you’ll find the biggest ships in the world, packed with amazing features.

But bigger doesn’t always mean better, and sometimes it’s the smaller ships of Celebrity that actually feel more spacious, since they don’t have anywhere near as many guests onboard.

Of course, if you want to try truly small-ship expedition cruising, then Celebrity is the way to go. And Celebrity Cruises has the smallest cruise ship in the world, with Celebrity Xploration.

Both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises offer a wide range of destinations throughout the year. While the Caribbean and Europe are, unsurprisingly, the most popular of the world’s regions for cruises with these two lines, there are plenty of other choices if you’re feeling more adventurous.

As a guide, here are the cruise itineraries available in each region:

Royal CaribbeanCelebrity Cruises
Alaska9663
Australia & New Zealand2928
Bermuda74
Canada & New England84
Caribbean & Bahamas4731
East Asia3635
Europe107136
Galapagos042
Hawaii79
Mexico & Latin America80
Middle East & South Asia32
Pacific Northwest43
Panama Canal58
Repositioning04
South America09
South Pacific143
Transatlantic2220
Transpacific510

Royal Caribbean Destinations

A vibrant aerial view of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, featuring an elaborate top deck with colorful water slides and leisure areas, approaching the tropical island Coco Cay with clear blue waters and sandy beaches, under a bright blue sky.

Royal Caribbean has an amazing 35 embarkation ports all over the world.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the most popular are the ports in Florida for cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas, though it also offers a large number of cruises from Barcelona and Rome, as well as one ship sailing from Southampton each summer.

14 of the embarkation ports are based in North America, including ports on the east and west coasts of the US, along with Vancouver and Hawaii.

Royal Caribbean’s private Island, Perfect Day at CocoCay is a popular port of call on many Bahamas cruises.

Celebrity Cruises Destinations

A Celebrity cruise ship docked at a port, captured during the golden hour with a backdrop of scattered clouds in the sky. The waterfront is lined with white buildings and a marina filled with smaller boats, providing a serene coastal setting.

Celebrity Cruises has a similar range of embarkation ports, with 33 options across the world, though there is more of a spread. 11 of the ports are in North America and the Caribbean, with another 9 in Europe.

There are also four embarkation ports in South America, which are often tailored towards the expedition cruises.

Which to Choose?

If you want the ‘classic’ cruise experience, either exploring historic cities of Europe or hitting the tropical locations of the world, there’s not much between Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises – either will offer plenty of choice for this style of cruise.

And it’s similar if you want to cruise from the UK – both have a range of options available, all sailing from Southampton, so you aren’t really better off from a destination perspective with one or the other.

Where Celebrity wins out is in the more unique locations – particularly around the Galapagos Islands and South America – thanks to its Expeditions fleet. For big, mainstream cruising destinations, either cruise line will do, but Celebrity has the edge for exploring smaller, off-the-beaten-track ports.

Your choice of stateroom or suite accommodations will depend as much on the ship you choose as the cruise line. Both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises have some excellent and unique options for your room, but they aren’t available fleet-wide.

As a starting point, the ships will always have options for inside, ocean view or balcony (“Veranda” on Celebrity) staterooms, as well as a range of suites that come with additional benefits. 

So if you’re cruising on a budget, you can choose an Inside room, whereas if you want the most space and a host of additional perks then the suites are the way to go.

Both cruise lines also have dedicated solo rooms on select ships only, so if you’re a single traveller you’ll need to check which ships are the best options, otherwise, you could be paying expensive single supplements.

Royal Caribbean Staterooms and Suites

Here are some of the more unique accommodation options on Royal Caribbean ships:

Virtual Balcony Staterooms

Interior of a cruise ship stateroom with a large bed centered between nautical-themed curtains and a round porthole mirror. The room has a cozy ambiance with a view of the open sea through the virtual balcony

Available on Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, and Voyager of the Seas, Virtual Balcony Staterooms help to elevate the experience of an inside stateroom with a ‘virtual’ balcony.

One wall is a digital screen which has a live stream of the ship’s exterior so it’s like you have a balcony, despite being on the inside of the ship.

While you don’t get the natural light or the fresh air, it’s a step up from a regular inside stateroom with no view at all, and it means you have an idea of what time of the day it is as well – something people often struggle with when they don’t have any form of window!

Interior Balcony Staterooms

An interior view of a cruise ship's central promenade at dusk, featuring a multi-level design with private balconies facing the indoor park filled with lush greenery and a glass-roofed atrium, festively adorned with international flags.

Oasis-class and Icon-class ships have a range of interior balcony staterooms – rooms that have a full balcony, but that face the inside of the ship rather than being ocean-facing.

They’re cheaper than an ocean-view balcony since you don’t get the same quality of view, but you have your own private outdoor space where you can overlook the calming serenity of Central Park, or the bustling activity of the Boardwalk.

The only real downside is the fact that, opposite you, will be another balcony facing you – so these rooms are a little less private.

AquaTheater Suites

Top-down view of the 'Allure of the Seas' cruise ship's aft, showcasing the tiered deck structure with a sports court, pools, and sun loungers. The ship's name is prominently displayed on the stern, against the calm blue ocean backdrop.

On the Oasis Class, the AquaTheater suites offer something truly special – private viewing space for the amazing water shows of the AquaTheater at the aft of the ship.

The balconies (with one-bed and two-bed options) have spacious balconies that directly overlook the AquaTheater. Never mind having reserved seats, these are the best views of the AquaTheater on the whole ship and they’re attached to your suite – you can’t get more convenient than that.

Two-Storey Suites

Luxurious two-story cruise ship suite with modern decor, featuring a spacious living area with a large sofa, contemporary furniture, and floor-to-ceiling windows offering an expansive view of the ocean. A sleek staircase leads to the upper-level bedroom, enhancing the room's open and airy feel.

The best suites on some of the more modern Royal Caribbean ships are two storeys tall, almost doubling the space you’d otherwise enjoy. You get a spacious downstairs living area, and then a separate bedroom space upstairs, along with a private balcony.

All of the two-storey suites (Star Loft, Crown Loft etc.) are special, but the Royal Loft Suites are some of the most spacious accommodation options at sea, and while they’re not budget-friendly they do offer a magnificent experience.

Ultimate Family Accommodations

Playful and colorful interior of a family suite on a cruise ship, featuring a bright red slide connecting two floors. The room is bathed in natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a view of the ocean, with fun decor including oversized candy-like wall ornaments and cozy, contemporary furnishings.

On select ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, you can book either an Ultimate Family Suite or Ultimate Family Townhouse – provided you’ve got around $20,000 per person in your budget for a week-long cruise.

These suites are aimed squarely at families and especially at kids, with features such as games consoles, piano-key staircases (that actually work) and slides from the upper floor down to the main living area.

These are the suites that kids dream of, but brought to life.

Celebrity Cruises Staterooms and Suites

Here are some of the options worth noting on Celebrity Cruises ships:

Infinite Veranda Edge Staterooms

Interior of an Infinite Veranda stateroom on a cruise ship, featuring a large bed with white and navy bedding, a sofa, and a table set against the backdrop of a balcony overlooking the sea. The room is adorned with a framed picture of a seashell on the beach.

On the modern Edge-class ships in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, you’re able to book Infinite Veranda Edge Staterooms, which are impressive balcony staterooms right on the water’s edge. A push of a button, and the top half of the window slides down to let you enjoy a stunning view – it’s a truly exceptional place to stay.

Concierge Class

Contemporary cruise ship cabin with a large bed, sophisticated decor, and a work desk illuminated by natural light from the balcony door, which opens to a private view of the ocean. The tranquil ambiance is complemented by a soft color scheme and abstract wall art.

Celebrity’s Concierge Class staterooms are available across the main ocean fleet (excluding the Expedition ships), and offer improved amenities and services compared to regular staterooms. 

You’ll have a team of concierges on hand to help with any request you might have during your stay, as well as a more premium stateroom that has a more luxurious feel.

AquaClass

Modern and elegant cruise ship cabin with a red and white bed, a comfortable gray sofa, and a marble coffee table. A framed picture of a woman in a pink dress adds a touch of glamour, and the room's light wood tones create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Book a stay in an AquaClass stateroom or suite if you want to make the most of the spa facilities onboard.

Not only will you enjoy an elevated experience in your room (with more luxurious furnishings, additional space and expansive verandas) but you’ll also get free access to certain spa facilities onboard, and priority booking for special treatments via the spa concierge.

The Retreat

Bird's-eye view of a cruise ship's exclusive retreat area, featuring a modern design with luxurious lounging spaces, a private pool, cabanas, and a distinctive geometric glass dome. The ship's deck blends sleek architecture and tropical elements against the backdrop of the ocean.

The Retreat is an exclusive suite-only area of the ship that hosts the best suite accommodations. As well as spacious, luxurious accommodations it’s also the home of private sun decks and restaurants that only suite guests are permitted to use, offering an even more relaxing experience away from the crowds.

Which to Choose?

Royal Caribbean has much more variety in the choice of staterooms and suites compared to Celebrity Cruises, with innovative features such as the virtual balconies, and rooms tailored to families.

Whereas Celebrity’s accommodations are more aimed at adults who want to relax and unwind. The focus is more on tranquil spaces and facilities geared towards the spa or enjoying a quieter area of the ship.

Both cruise lines have opulent options if you’re paying top-dollar, but as a broad guide, families will love the accommodation options on Royal Caribbean more while Celebrity is well suited to couples who prefer a peaceful getaway.

Food is such an important part of a cruise, so it’s vital you know what to expect with these cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean Food

A close-up of two gourmet dishes served on a cruise: a lobster roll with a side of chips on the left, and a crispy chicken burger with plantain chips on the right. In the background, a seafood display with a whole fish, shrimp, and lemons creates an inviting atmosphere for dining.

One complaint you could never level at a Royal Caribbean ship is that the food is boring – it’s not possible, as there’s just way too much choice.

Even on the smaller ships, you get loads of restaurant options onboard, with as many as 20 unique options on the largest ships in the fleet.

Popular options across the fleet include the Chops Grille Steakhouse, Izumi Sushi, and the Johnny Rockets burger and milkshake venue. There’s also Wonderland, the unique venue that offers a complete sensory experience with amazing dishes.

With Royal Caribbean, it’s all about choice – but also the quality of each venue, so you’ll always find something delicious no matter your tastes.

Celebrity Cruises Food

An elegant dish being meticulously plated, with a hand pouring a vibrant orange sauce over beautifully arranged seafood and garnishes, in a chic dining setting on a cruise ship, exemplifying fine dining at sea.

Celebrity doesn’t have the extensive range of venues that Royal Caribbean can offer, but that doesn’t mean there’s no variety. While the restaurant list may be smaller, the quality of every venue is outstanding – expect a more premium style of dining, with outstanding menus crafted by renowned chefs.

The venues are stylish, too – not too formal, but still offering an upmarket and refined experience. From the classic French cuisine of Murano, to the suite-exclusive Michelin-starred dishes in Luminae, dinner (and other meals) on a Celebrity cruise feels like a special occasion.

Which to Choose?

Royal Caribbean is the cruise line to choose if you enjoy good quality food options with plenty of variety. If you like the idea of a more casual dining experience, or you want to try somewhere different every night, then a Royal Caribbean ship is a great choice.

However, if you’re more interested in exquisite menus in stylish, luxurious venues then you’ll find more options tailored to you on a Celebrity cruise.

One of the biggest areas where the two cruise lines differ is in the onboard activities.

Royal Caribbean Activities

Overhead view of Icon of the Seas bustling activity deck, filled with a variety of colorful water slides twisting above a spacious pool area, sports courts, and lounging spaces, set against the deep blue sea, showcasing a hub of recreational fun at sea.

If you’re looking for an action-packed cruise, then Royal Caribbean should be near the very top of your list. While activities will vary depending on the ship you choose, some of the things you can enjoy include:

And so much more! Just try getting bored on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Celebrity Cruises Activities

The pool deck of a Celebrity cruise ship, featuring an elegant oval pool with a striking white elephant sculpture, surrounded by neatly arranged sun loungers and shaded seating areas. Above, a distinctive geometric dome adds a modern touch to the ship's leisure amenities, all set against the tranquil ocean backdrop.

A Celebrity Cruise is more tailored towards relaxation and exploring the destination, though you will still find a variety of things to enjoy onboard, including:

  • Golf simulators
  • Health and wellness classes
  • Pickleball
  • Hot glass classes
  • Movies under the stars

Which to Choose?

If you’re someone who loves keeping busy and wants your ship to be as much a part of your cruise as the destination, choose Royal Caribbean. The newest, biggest ships are truly action-packed – you’ll never do everything in just one cruise.

But if you prefer relaxation, and you prefer having more space to unwind, then either choose an older Royal Caribbean ship or choose one of the beautiful Celebrity Cruises ships instead.

With both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, you’ll enjoy world-class entertainment during your cruise.

Royal Caribbean Entertainment

A dazzling ice skating performance on a cruise ship, with a skater lifted in a stunning pose above another, both adorned in sparkling costumes under the magenta stage lights. The background is set with whimsical decorations, creating a captivating and enchanting atmosphere for the audience.

On a Royal Caribbean cruise, you can look forward to some of the biggest Broadway shows, along with original productions in both the theatre and (on select ships) the AquaTheater and ice-skating rinks.

Some of the Broadway shows you can catch on a Royal Caribbean ship include:

  • Grease
  • Cats
  • Hairspray
  • Mamma Mia!
  • We Will Rock You

Celebrity Cruises Entertainment

An indoor performance by the entertainers of celebrity cruises

While Celebrity ships don’t have the big-name musicals, that doesn’t mean the quality of entertainment isn’t as good. The wide range of original productions brings many Broadway classics to life in new and fascinating ways, utilising the very latest technology for some stunning visuals, too.

Which to Choose?

This one’s tough, because the quality of live entertainment across both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises is so high.

If there’s a specific show from Broadway that you want to watch, check to see if it’s being performed on Royal Caribbean. But don’t sleep on the Celebrity shows – you may find they’re even more impressive than your old favourites.

Considering which cruise line is best for children? Let’s take a look.

Royal Caribbean Kids’ Facilities

A vibrantly-colored play area for kids onboard

The kids’ facilities on Royal Caribbean ships are outstanding. The Adventure Ocean kids’ clubs are split into small age groups, so that kids are with others closer to their age and enjoying activities perfect for them. 

There are also various spaces to enjoy onboard, including the Adventure Science Lab, the Imagination Studio and the Adventure Theatre for movies and TV shows.

Celebrity Cruises Kids’ Facilities

Children playing on the play area of celebrity cruises

A Celebrity cruise is often referred to as one where your kids are cruising with you, rather than being a cruise line for the kids – meaning the facilities are aimed more at adults, and kids need to be comfortable in that environment.

It’s a half-truth because, in reality, the Camp at Sea kids’ clubs on Celebrity match those on Royal Caribbean. Younger cruisers will take part in all kinds of activities, including various games and movie nights but also some educational activities too (without losing that sense of fun).

Which to Choose?

A Royal Caribbean ship is better suited to families because they have more to enjoy onboard for younger guests.

But the kids’ clubs on both cruise lines are great fun, and if you’re set on a Celebrity cruise, your children may have just as good a time spending every day in the Camp at Sea clubs as they would exploring a Royal Caribbean ship.

The demographics of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are not a million miles apart – let’s take a look.

Royal Caribbean Demographic

Cruise mummy and her family flashing a beautiful smile behind a cruise ship

In the cruise line’s own words, Royal Caribbean appeals to “adventure-seeking families as well as couples and singles in their 30s to 50s”.

You will find a typically younger average age on Royal Caribbean compared to many other cruise lines, but because the ships are so family-oriented (and the cruises aren’t super-cheap), you don’t tend to get too many younger parents in their 20s.

Celebrity Cruises Demographic

Two gentlemen taking a selfie onboard

The typical cruise passengers on a Celebrity cruise will be in a similar age bracket to a Royal Caribbean guest, between 30 and 50, though on average you’ll find fewer families onboard – it tends to be more solo guests and couples. 

You may also find more people in their 50s and 60s onboard, who prefer the more contemporary style of a Celebrity ship compared to some other traditional cruise lines.

Neither Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises can be considered a cheap cruise line – but how do they compare?

Royal Caribbean Prices

Royal Caribbean prices vary considerably depending on your chosen ship and itinerary. Some of the older, smaller ships offer great value, whereas the newer ships can be quite expensive for a mainstream cruise line.

A 7-night Caribbean cruise on Wonder of the Seas, one of the biggest ships in the fleet but not the very newest, will typically cost between £100/$130 and £130/$165 per person, per night for an Inside Stateroom.

Celebrity Cruises Prices

Reflecting the premium nature of the cruise line, Celebrity’s prices tend to be a little higher than Royal Caribbean, even though the inclusions are similar.

Celebrity is positioned as a five-star cruise line – not quite ultra-luxury, but certainly a step up from mainstream cruises, and so the price will typically reflect that.

You can find some itineraries on newer ships that are similarly priced to a Royal Caribbean cruise, but prices can go up to £150/$190 per person, per night for an equivalent Caribbean itinerary.

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The Verdict

Neither Royal Caribbean nor Celebrity Cruises are better than the other – they are designed with different audiences in mind. Yet there are a lot of ways in which they are similar – which is why they work so well as sister cruise lines.

If you want a cruise that puts more focus on the kids, with ships that are bright and colourful and packed with activities, Royal Caribbean would be a natural choice.

Whereas if you are looking for a more premium cruising experience with more opulent dining choices, then Celebrity Cruises may be a better fit.

But with so much crossover, such as the quality of the kids’ clubs and the live entertainment, you might prefer to try both if you have the luxury, and decide on your own favourite.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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